Response to the Secretary General on Activities to Counter VERLT: Statement to the PC

United States nameplate in the Hofburg Congress Center's Neuer Saal, location of many OSCE Permanent Council sessions. (USOSCE/Colin Peters)

We welcome report on the activities of OSCE field operations in preventing and countering violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism. This survey demonstrates that the OSCE is an active and experienced player in the field of countering violent extremism (CVE) and is dedicated to turning principled commitments into practical, result-oriented activities.

The 2015 Ministerial Council Declaration on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that Lead to Terrorism emphasizes that both participating States and OSCE executive structures, particularly its field missions, have an important role in addressing this pressing and complex phenomenon. We commend the specific activities outlined across nine field operations that have supported the development of national counterterrorism strategies and action plans, promoted the engagement of youth, women, and civil society, and expanded community policing approaches.

In Southeastern Europe, we commend the OSCE’s efforts to develop tabletop exercises in support of the development and implementation of national CVE action plans and community-level resilience strategies. While we recognize that many field missions have had long-standing programmatic engagements in this field, there is still work to be done. We welcome hearing about CVE-related activities undertaken by the OSCE Center in Ashgabat and OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan.

As the OSCE works to advance participating States’ support for the United Nation’s activities in countering and preventing violent extremism, including the UN Secretary-General’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism, we emphasize the importance of integrating the protection and promotion of human rights, rule of law, good governance, and a gender focus into the activities of OSCE field missions. We also recognize that the Transnational Threats Department serves as an important resource for field missions, and should continue to facilitate the exchange of best practices among the various parts of the OSCE and coordinate OSCE activities with international partners.

In a time of scarce resources, we welcome that several field missions have committed to using Unified Budget funds to fulfill priority tasks on CVE; yet we recognize that extra-budgetary resources often fill critical funding gaps that allow sustained programmatic engagement. The United States acknowledges the value of the OSCE’s work on countering violent extremism and has contributed over €500,000, in both financial contributions and staff secondment, to CVE-related efforts since 2012. These include a capacity-building project empowering local youth, religious, and female leaders, a guidebook leveraging community policing efforts, and a tabletop exercise in Bosnia and Herzegovina that raised awareness regarding a recently adopted national CVE action plan and produced several useful policy and programmatic recommendations. We encourage OSCE field missions to expand donor bases to foundations, business, and other institutions as a way to continue funding similarly important, targeted OSCE CVE efforts.

Director Lyzhenkov, we thank you once again for producing a valuable product that reminds us of the important work field missions are doing to implement OSCE commitments and advance global objectives. It is through practical, on-the-ground initiatives that we can help curb this worrying phenomenon that presents a threat to our collective security.

I’d like to add here that yesterday the United States released – following President Obama’s summit on CVE last year – our own updated CVE Strategy which is available on the State Department website.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.